Sans Fards

I was reading the theme for Feminist Friday XVI this week and The Transatlantic Blonde mentioned "The Beauty Myth" - a ground-breaking feminist work by Naomi Wolf which examines the theory that "beauty" is a patriarchal social construction.  She (Ms Wolf) considers that even with all the power and money that women have in the modern world we are much worse off than our grandmothers because of the modern-day (unobtainable) image of "beauty".

We appear to have become a world obsessed by image.  Every day we open our media sources (I read most of mine online) and we are subjected to articles dissecting the human form - mainly women, but some men too.  Examining which celebrity has lost or gained weight, who has had plastic surgery, the latest food/diet fads and which exercise regime is the current favourite.  In October last year I wrote a post called "FAT" which examined one British newspaper's contradictory articles about two well-known singers, congratulating Beth Ditto as being a natural on the catwalk and bemoaning the fact that Katy Perry looked a little curvier than usual.

It doesn't matter what we do, we are always judged on first impressions.  Even if you don't base your continuing relationship with that person on that first meeting, you will always have a preconceived idea through previous interaction, whether that be an online exchange, a telephone call or seeing them walking towards you for the first time.

I have always carried myself with my quick wit and humour and behind a blog and social media presence that is so much easier that in real life.  I have compensated for feeling as though I don't come up to visual expectations by perfecting my make-up and wearing it as a mask.  Even on days where I am slobbing around the house, the eyeliner and the mascara are on and I always swipe a bit of colour onto my cheeks before venturing out of the front door.  It is a very rare occasion when I don't bother and feel completely naked without it.

I know what the make-up does; highlights the good features and disguises the bad.  In my mind my eyes are my best feature so I draw big black circles around them, lengthen my lashes with thick black mascara and shape my eyebrows to make you look at the eye area and detract from the saggy cheeks and the fact that I don't have the slim body that I used to have.  But this is only in my own image of myself compared to the perfection that is denoted in the media and surely if my eyes are my redeeming feature then I shouldn't have to point them out to you?  But women from all cultures have found ways to highlight certain features that they believe their men or peers find attractive, examples being the neck rings worn by the Padaung women of Kayan or the African/Amazonian lip plates.

So I've decided to a comparison to see if you can see what I can - or can't - see.  From barefaced to day-time-make-up.

This is my confidence booster.  I can see how my face has changed over the years through age and weight-gain and consequently can see how the years have passed without me fulfilling my ambitions but I also understand that is my own personal battle.  Both of my grandmothers were very glamourous women; Nana finished with a slash of red lipstick and a jaunty scarf and Oma always wore earrings and a smart outfit. Both were very strong, matriarchal figures - the backbone of both sides of the family - and it's blatantly obvious where I get my headstrong, protective, provider nature from.  I often wonder what my grandchildren will remember about my image but I doubt very much that crossed my grandmother's minds - they just got on with it.

Should I take a leaf out of their book, maybe?